I had an amazing time competing as an NPC Bikini competitor, and also had fun competing as an IFBB Bikini Pro, despite the fact that I didn’t place well as a Pro. However, I don’t miss the maddening prep which precedes each competition, nor the constant self-scrutiny which always surfaces during prep. Though I always want to win, I am not going to have a nervous breakdown over the fact that my placings as a Pro have been underwhelming. I don’t feel pressured to step onstage, and I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with retiring completely from competing if that is what I decide to do. Yet I still get that question, “When’s your next show?”
A number of people have mentioned that the stakes have been raised lately, due to the more muscle-bound, newer Bikini Pros. They have told me this as if I wasn’t already aware of that fact! I am well aware of who is competing in the Pro ranks, and what the ladies are bringing onstage these days. Here’s the truth: I am tired of trying to balance a very busy schedule with two-a-day cardio sessions and double training in order to prep for a contest. My attitude is that I already won. My singular goal with competing was to attain IFBB Pro status, which I did. So should I feel that my value has somehow diminished because I am not one of the handful of IFBB Bikini Pros who have decided to continue competing in the Pro ranks? If you think about it, the majority of Pros do NOT compete. There are over 400 Bikini Pros now, but only a small percentage of them choose to keep hitting the stage.
What happens when a Pro chooses to continue with competing? The stakes are raised in the Pro ranks, with stiff competition from other Pros, and a more stringent judging panel which is necessary when assessing the best physiques in the world. It can be quite intimidating, which I think is a major factor for Pros who avoid the stage the minute they go Pro. It can be rather disappointing to achieve the crowning victory of Pro status, then get slapped down because you aren’t one of the best Pros. Basically, you go from being at the top of one heap, to being at the bottom of another one.
Since life is about balance, many Pros shift their focus to career, family, and other interests. The idea of returning to the stage can be downright repellent to some Pros who finally realize what they were missing when they were in the throes of competing during their amateur days. I have heard people in the industry talk smack about Pros who “let themselves go”, which in many cases is code speak for situations in which a Pro began to finally live like a normal person. In the world of bodybuilding, being “normal” is often regarded in a negative light.
For those of you who are IFBB Pros and are feeling some remorse over not stepping on stage as a Pro, you need to stop beating yourself up about it! As long as you represent the IFBB in a classy manner, and continue to inspire and motivate through your fitness lifestyle and whatever other respectable endeavors you are involved in, you don’t have to compete. You are still a Pro, always amazing, and one of the top athletes in the bodybuilding world!